At the inception of the inter-provincial football tournament known as the FUFA Drum in 2018, West-Nile Province became one of the pioneer sixteen provinces to compete in the then FUFA’s newest competition which was launched by FUFA President Hon. Magogo Moses Hassim as another platform to provide football stakeholders to celebrate their ancestry.
Yet for reigning champions West Nile, the tournament does not just stop at providing a platform for celebrating their ancestry but also their diversity as a region.
Sam Rwothomio, an ardent football fan who resides in Nebbi town says the tournament goes beyond just providing for the province an opportunity to celebrate their ancestry.
“West Nile has so many tribes with different cultural settings, so for us, the FUFA drum isn’t just about celebrating our ancestry as a people but also about celebrating our diversity that we have embraced from a long time ago.” — Sam Rwothomio
The province boasts of tribes such as Madi, Alur, Kakwa, Lugbara, Kebu, Aringa, and Nubi among others and this according to Mike Letti, the team manager of West Nile Province, provides an opportunity for the players to learn from one another the different cultural practices when they get together adding that West Nile is the only province that ”speaks English” in the dressing room.
“Our cultural diversity gives the boys opportunity to learn from one another the different cultural practices from across the region, and also given the large pool of players we have, it enhances competition in the team as players don’t only want to represent the province but also their tribes in the squad” — Mike Letti
West Nile province, unlike other provinces that have chosen other wild animals to represent their heritage, chose the white rhino, the most social of all rhino species as their symbol.
In the 1960s, the British took a number of the white rhino species from West Nile to South Africa and according to the Prime Minister of Lugbara Kari Rt. Hon. Ismail Tuku, they failed to reproduce and they have since been brought back to Uganda.
Ariga Rasoul, the chairperson of the province and an executive member of FUFA says the choice of the white rhino as the symbol for the province was meant to, among other things, portray the social nature of the West Nile people.
“We chose the White Rhino as our symbol to portray the social nature of the people of West Nile. We also wanted an animal that would represent the whole region given our tribal diversity.” — Ariga Rasoul
During the first edition, West Nile finished as runner-up after losing to Buganda Province (2-1) on aggregate in the final that was played over two legs before triumphing in the 2022-2023 edition; defeating Lango Province 3-2 on aggregate.
The white rhinos go into this year’s edition as one of the favourites along with former winners Buganda and Acholi having been drawn in Group C; alongside Bugisu and the winner between Karamoja and Busoga; with the latter favourites after thrashing the former 4-1 in the first leg of their preliminary qualifying match.